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tv   [untitled]    February 12, 2012 5:00am-5:30am EST

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you all. as a reminder to our audience, a listing of our book can be found not only in our monthly newsletter, but also at our fabulous internet site. tonight's guest is victor davis hanson. he has returned in honor of his latest work, ripples of battle, how wars of the past determine how we fight, how we live, how victor davis hanson began here in santa cruise and moved on to stanford, he is with california state university fresno and is a senior member of the hoover institute in war revolutions and peace, a stanford policy resource center focusing on politics, economics and enter national affairs. this quite energetic historian has written over 170 articles
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and book reviews that focus on classical studies, military history and contrary culture. his work appears in the national review as well as other publications, he is the author of 13 books, where he as a fifth generation california farmer explore the rising concern of america's fluid borders. now mr. hanson has penned "ripples of battle." looking at three highly influential yet often overlooked battles. "ripples of battle" has gifted story telling with the effects of human conflict. the human, military, and
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cultural effects will resonate for centuries to come. manifested, for example, in a family's lost of a husband or son, such as mr. hanson's own uncle. or in the direction of sock ra tease -- socrates survivor. with a world altering conflict since september 11, we are in the throes of a battle ripple effect. victor davis hanson weighs in on how the past may be shaping our future. please welcome victor davis hanson. >> thank you. i always like to come back to santa cruise where i spent four
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tumultuous years as an under graduate. "ripples of battle" is part of an ongoing effort to reclaim the value of military history. and i'm trying to resonate with an audience the greek's idea of history is not just the recording of things in the past. that seems to be what is the history of the sitcom or history of the footnote or history of the brawl. but recording or memory of things that were preeminent in the past. in the greek sense it's wars and politics. so i wanted to write about war, but in a different way. most military histories look at the strategic consequences of conflict or the tactical ramfications of how battles work
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on an operational level. i was interested in how battles affects all of us for centuries. there is something strange about battle if you think about it. you put males, young males and you put them in a confined space and you give them for a few hours a license to kill. those who survive, if they live on, that becomes one of themome because time seems to accelerate. the stakes,o one's life. if they're killed, as in the case of my namesake who was killed at 23 at sugar loaf hill, for the next 60 years the family went over that loss and what would have been and what would have been if victor hanson had a farm, what it would have been if he was with his father. all events in the past are not equal. i think it would be behoove us to look at the past.
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maybe i can summarize that from the first chapter when i said it's -- you see, gods, are deliberately responsible for the dead of battle. in the conscious effort to slay other humans, and not through errors of judgment in time we can come to accept the deaths of loved ones if they die of infections, less so if we know that their bodies were torn apart from angry humans. people forgive the wars of flame, battle, again, so unlike nature brings with it bothersome ideas of prevent ability an responsibility all married to the lingering notions of what if, and who's fault and he, not it, did this. anger, passion, revenge erupt from battle. remember the alamo and
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harbor inflames people where such things as hurricane karla cannot. stray bullets kill brave men and miss cowards, they tear open great doctors to be and merely nick soldier have a criminal past. that has a tendency to rob us of the talented, inflate the mediocre. always making young men who survived not forget what they've been through. i can't this evening about hai discuss in the book. i deliberately selected those that we know less about annt to or the battle marathon or gettysburg, i looked atnwa.
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and in shilo that i would like to speak about. okinawa, we don't think much about it. if you look at the latest enpsychly peeda, oki -- encyclopedia, doesn't serve an entry. okinawa actually 100,000 japanese soldiers died. 100,000 okinawa civilians were wounded or killed. 50,000 american casualties, 12,000 dead. all of this three months before the end of world war ii. why don't we think about it? there were a series of ripples that occurred that clouded our memory. franklin d. roosevelt died in the middle of the campaign. the war in europe ended in may in the middle of the campaign.
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there was something about it that didn't make sense. we took this big island and dropped the bomb two months after the end of the campaign. people were angry that we didn't drop it before. why did 300,000 people die when you had this weapon that could have stopped it. so it is a very strange battle to look at. when i tried to interview survivors or talk about the literature that came out, some great literature came out of it, william manchester, "good-bye darkness," and two things i think are important for us in the present period. if you want to learn how americans are the -- of the west react to people who get in planes and fill them with explosives and try to kill their enemy and themselves in the process, you would do no better than to go back to okinawa, that act of suicide-murdering has a profound effect on the west.
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when people want to kill so badly, they are willing to kill themselves in the process, it brings a response to westerners, if you want to know where we came up with body count and not territory, go back to okinawa after americans scoured the entire island and declared it safe, there were 8,000 japanese thatey t back and killed them. that's where body count arose. okinawa is the labory of suicide and military -- laboratory of suicide and military conflict. there were people who were suicide pilots, there were people who were suicide infantrymen and the americans
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devised a method to deal with it. the idea that if western people are willing to have losses, they have the technology to make life so awful for the people who would choose to die to kill them, that they came up with something. if you want to know why we were talking about daisy cutters, our bunker busters after 9-11 had something to do with an image of a suicide murder. the other battle i looked at was delium 424, it was a border scrimmage. atkins that the particular time was going through the first real enlightenment. this was a city with socretes and the fight was fought 100 miles from athens, people fled all the way back to the
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acroples. and the bodies that were lost were kept as hostages and allowed to rot for 17 days and out of that horrible experience, believe it or not, a lot of strange things happened. the present play is about in some ways the battle. it was to talk about the justice letting bodies rot under the sun. the funny thing is that play is toward classical ideas toward democracy. if we didn't have that play we would be impoverished. weet wouldn't have that play -- we wouldn't have that play if it weren't for that battle. a 26-year-old calvaryman led his
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city to disaster. socretes was 46 years old. this is his third battle. it is mentioned in plato's work. plato references battle. if socretes was not killed, human society would be different than we though it now. and there was also the tactical birth of what i would call ar particular lation or the idea that -- or particular lation or the idea that there was an echelon of attacks, th precursor to alexander the great took place in this battle. if you look at a battle not as to what did it do to affect the outcome of a war, or how many people fought how many people, but look at individuals, you get
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a different impression of military history, which brings us to the third and the one i want to talk about in a few minutes, and that was the strange battle of shilo, we don't hear -- we hear cold harbor and gettysburg, but in some ways shilo was a critical battle. i won't talk about it tactically, i will give you a brief idea that on april 6 and april 7, 1862, maybe the one and only time war, the south had a chance to defeat the north. somehow these generals who were squabbling from different states without of nationhood assembled 40,000 men under generals bragg and bulregard. the reason i was attracted to
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this battle, besides my hero, my maternal grandmother claimed ancestry to albert sydney johnson so i brew up hearing in the morning that william sherman was a monster and albert sidney johnson was a saint and they both met at shilo, it has always been in my mind, so i had a personal relationship in some ways with these battles. but in any case when the battle was over 2 1/2 days later, the whole world took note because this was the first mass battle in some sense with rifled muskets, and there were more cash uleties missing at shilo than all of the battles in the history of the american republic up to that time put together. probably 24,000 casualties and almost 2,000 killed. this would be child's play compared to the wilderness at an
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eat it imor gettysburg, but at this -- antetem or gettysburg, but at this time it was shocking. on the morning -- sunday morning they got this army, nobody thought that they could do it. albert sidney johnson brought it within a few hundred yards of the union line and nobody knew it was there. and they attacked at dawned they almost broke the right side of the union army. what i would like to do at this point not talk about the tactics, but talk about how this battle affected four people who were there in a way that i think affects all of us in this room right now. i should say before we start, there was a lot of famous people here, two future presidents, who i'm not going to talk about, grant and garfield, two great explorers, stanley, the african
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explorer, and john wesley powell who recorded the colorado river exploration, so there was a lot of people here. one was william sherman. when the battle started at 5:30 in the morning, william sherman was all through. he was probably the most brilliant military man in the history of american military operations, but not at shilo that morning because he had a checkered career, he retind a few -- resign a few years earlier, everything he did revealed his natural brill yens and he failed. -- brilliance. and he failed. he failed at everything. he failed as a banker, a farmer, a shopkeeper, he went down to louisiana and working on an academy and the war broke out and he had to leave. due to his political connections, his wife was connected with a prominent legal
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family, he was given a command at bull run, he did pretty well. he was given after that a command of the western theater specifically to watch out for kentucky and tennessee, and he said something in the fall of 1861 that ruined his career, he said that i think that this war will take 200,000 men, at that time people were talking about one great battle that would end it. he said that we can't win the war unless we have 200,000, people thought he was crazy and then he said i'm depressed, he had bad asthma. he resigned his commission. i think what the modern physician would call a mental breakdown. in any case he was all through and didn't do anything for two months. through the effort of friends, he was given one division, a raw ohio division, he was a brigadier general. one of many brigadier generals and it was fate that before the battle he thought of suicide, but he didn't want to embarrass his family and when albert
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sidney johnson and braxton bragg decided to destroy the union army, they hit sherman on the right side of the line. he had 7,000 men and he was faced with 20,000 people pushing him at once, and something happened. all of that experience that had been accumulated in his life came to focus right there. unlike other commanders, he did not panic, he became emboldened. he rushed to the front. he organized battalions, he had cannons placed strategically, he lost one horse and then a second shot out from under him. a third horse was shot out from hundred him. bullets riddled his half everyone saw william sherman trying to galvanize this army, when it was all said by noon, they were not cracked.
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they bent, but did not great. grant met him in the morning and said i never had to worry about sherman. when sherman woke up two daybat, he was a famous american. everything that had happened badly to him, the breakdown, the loss of command, the resignation was completely forgotten, sherman was the man of the hour, and two mysterious things happened. one is grant was discredited wrongly i think, people thought he was asleep or worse drunk and he didn't know that this massive army reached his own forces, sherman said that they thought i was crazy once and you gave me a chance to come back at this battle. i think that you should stay and this partnership was forged. unfortunately for the south out of that crucible of shilo grant they had great trust as they
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worked in tandem, and they created the strange strategy of holding the southern army of northern virginia fast between richmond and washington and sherman went in the back and destroyed the material resource of the south and that was an undeniable ripple that took place. the other thing is sherman had a very different reaction to shilo than grant did. grant wasn't in the heat of battle. that battle was won on the second day because grant had 27,000 union troops in -- within a 15-mile radius of the battle. after the first loss of the first day, he saw that the way to defeat the south was to bring in reserves, bring in more man power, bring in more material. grant yesterday's of fighting then was this was waging a war between two societies and the union army would always win because it had superior manpower, sherman, who was in the heat of battle and saw this
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horrific result came up with a different -- a different reaction, and he wrote this again and again in his diary and to his wife that there had to be an alternative to sending young men head on into the age of accurate weaponry. out of that idea he started to formulate a new morality of war. i think that he is one of the most misunderstood people in the history. he did not think that it was moral for a white slave owning class, 3% to 4% of the south owned slaves, they were not participating in the war, but sending nonslave owning people. and he said that there has to be a way not to repeat shilo, he never really did engage in pitch battle again, he forged the idea and he said it again and again, it was a reaction to the bloodshed of shilo of going down to the south and you know the great march from atlanta to
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savannah in december of 1864 and then into the carolinas in which he lost only 100 men. he only killed 600 southerners in the georgia march, but devastated the infrastructure of the south, $100 million of damage directed at the state arsenals and the plantations of the wealthy. so much so when people in georgia saw him coming said, hey, the people of carolina started it, go there. we're tired of this war. put sherman dead on the first minute and the south probably would have won that battle. put sherman out of the battle there would not have been a march through georgia and without him there wouldn't have been this genesis of this way of thinking. there was another key person, who is one of my favorites, i
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don't know why he doesn't warrant praises at general, but it was a magnificent man, and that was albert sidney johnson. 6'2," 200 pounds, he was the ranking military officer of the united states army when the war broke out. he fought against the mormons, he was sterling character, had a series of financially -- never hint that he broken the law or was dishonest, he had not done well at fort henry or fort donaldson, but he was never in a pitch battle. this is before the rise of robert e. lee. and there was contraries that he looked like a general, talked like a general. he would say t tonight, we will water our horses tonight in the tennessee river, or men, enough of talking, it's time to fight. he said that the time for talk something over with, the time for fighting is now. he had a wondeul education.
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he quoted latin a lot. he was the architect of this. and once the southern army was pounding at sherman on the right side, they were making some progress, but thcistance, and t now famous like seminary ridge. it was called the hornet's nest, and rather thannd this often happens in military of ground that is symbolic of a will of people. they kept throwing people at it in frontal assaults and this hornet's nest was surrounded, it started to wind, but, again, it did not break under the jent and the key thing to -- under the remember is that the day was getting late. it was 40,000 against 40,000. they had surprise and momentum. but they had to push the union army into the tennessee river before reinforcements came ner
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wahls had and they had lost a critical three to six hours, johnson came over and said that we need a bay net. -- ba -- he charged the hornet's nend trip me up, men, go get them. and he fell out of the sattle. people thought he fainted. he just dismissed his doctor who could have helped him. he fell off his horse, nobody knew what was wrong, he died in 15 minutes. it turned out that the femur artery behind his knee was hit and it had a magnetic effect on while most people had disfiguring wounds, albert sidney johnson sort of went to sleep. very handsome man, 60 years old. nobody could
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there was no blood. people were shocked. this was 2:00 in the afternoon and they didn't know quite what to do. they said that colonel jackson had been killed. they department want to ruin morale for -- they didn't want to ruin morale. later the -- the southerners said that thet was galvanized. out of this the created this myth, forget the fact that the hornet's nest should have been bypassed in the first hours of the battle. forget the fact that the south would be outnumbered the next day, for get the fact that there was a mediocrity of demand. this apollo on horseback was arrive. if you look at the battle of shilo, there is a victory.
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the night ended before -- albert sidney johnson died and this was the creation of the mythology in the south of the lost opportunity. we didn't lose because we didn't have industrial capacity, we didn't lose because we didn't have enough man power, we didn't lose because we had the worst cause, we lost because of a flureks we were more patriot -- fluke, we were more patria powe in the south and i want to read you a couple of things from contraries. one is a ta had the fatal shot which struck him down on the sixth not been fired grant and his forces would not have been destroyed or captured and well would have never crossed tennessee, general johnson's death was a cat. there are no words adequate to express the loss to our country. this is the confederacy. sometimes the hopes of millions
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of people depend on one head and one arm. the west perished without johnson. after the war was over, rather than admitting the strife had ended because of either the bankruptcy or the cause that it was tied in with slavery, the lost opportunity at shilo fed into the larger idea of the lost cause, and it had an effect for southern cultural history for a century. the inability to come to terms that not only the south was outweighed by material resources and manpower, but generals like grant and sherman were better than southern generals or that people from ohio or michigan or indiana were just as courageous as good southern troops. out of the inability to accept reality became this myth making, and that is a ripple of albert sidney johnson's death.
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i want to turn to a happier note in some ways. about six miles from the battle, there is a flamboyant guy named lou wallace. he draws, paints, writes, he thinks that he's a poet. everybody from west point hates his guts. everybody remembers that state ledgesors were promoted. and -- lgs lators were promoted -- legislators were promoted. and he is promoted to general and he is there as a strategic reserve a little bit farther north on the tennessee river. he has a wonderful plan in the weeks before he created a special rout of reinforcement. he communicated with another he communicated with another general wallace about a


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